Friday, October 9, 2009

It was a challenge, it was hugely rewarding.

I volunteered with VSSN for two months, helping children with English at an orphanage in Kathmandu, then teaching at a school in a small, rural village called Puma. On arrival, the staff at VSSN made me feel completely comfortable - and this continued with regular contact through my placements. I had an absolutely amazing experience.

Working in the orphanage involved helping the children with their homework and of course playing lots of games! I've never met such mature, hard-working, loving and respectful little people! I also made great friends with the staff there - it was a privilege to meet such wonderful, giving, loving people.

In Puma, I lived with a local family while teaching at the local primary school. My host family made me feel instantly at home - which was awesome because being in rural Nepal was very different from Kathmandu. This was my first experience with teaching and although it was a challenge, it was hugely rewarding. I recommend going with lots of games up your sleeve to keep the lessons interesting - I soon learnt that maths is boring old maths no matter where you're from and who's teaching it! I will also say that it can get very lonely in a small village - not many people spoke English so learning a little bit of Nepali proved invaluable for making friends with the local people, who were so much fun! Overall, it was an amazing experience - I got to provide much-needed help in teaching English, spend time in a part of Nepal tourists don't often see (with beautiful views of the Himalayas), meet some amazing people, learn Nepali (which helped when I travelled around Nepal later on), and experience and understand Nepali culture.

Thank you for the opportunity Matrika - what you do is truly inspiring. I've been gone nearly two weeks now but I miss Nepal and all the wonderful people I met so much. I really hope I have the opportunity to return sometime soon!

Kimberley Smyth - New Zealand (living in the UK)